Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Pixar Princess

Right, first of all: can I put my hand up and ask that we get MORE movies where the trailer doesn't cover 3/4 of the plot?  It was so refreshing to go see Brave this weekend and enjoy some honest-to-god surprises for a change.

Still, it was hard to watch without thinking about the conversation that must have been its genesis.  I picture it something like this:

Bob Iger and John Lasseter get together to play Barbies and talk girl power.

Disney Exec:  "Right, so John, buddy... we love your movies, but you know what they're saying - the Pixar canon's getting to be sort of a boys' club, and it's about time you kicked in for the princess collection, so..."

John Lasseter: "Seriously?  Can't I just do another movie about cars?  What if it starred a girl car, could we - "

Disney: "Er, no.  No more cars, John, really.  No, what we're going to need for this one is a princess, and I mean an honest-to-god human being, not a robot or a fish or what-have-you.  She'll need to be headstrong and want to follow her dreams - are you getting this? - and see if you can do something ethnic; that's big with the kids these days."

Lasseter: *doodling Mater with an afro in notepad margins* "Ethnic, right..."

Disney: "Make sure you have a talking animal - and no goddamn magic dog-collars, John, just play it straight.  And songs, of course - do you need Phil Collins' number?"

Lasseter: "Er - no, thanks, I've got it.  Speaking of Phil, do you think we could do something like Tarzan, where she doesn't actually have to - "

Disney: "John..."

Lasseter: "No, really - look, I tell you what: get me off the hook with the singing, and we'll do THREE funny animals - three CUTE funny animals.  Think of the merchandise!"

Disney: "Well... all right, but don't get screwy.  Standard operating procedure on the rest: soaring vistas, inspiring message, a handsome prince..."

Lasseter: "At least one handsome prince, got it."

Disney: "What?"

Lasseter: "Nothing, nevermind - say, have you read about The Hunger Games?  Let me run something by you..."

18 months later: Disney execs drop by to see the first ten minutes of test animation.  There's a heartwarming childhood scene, Merida chafing against the demands of princess-dom, soaring vistas and rousing music.  Disney execs leave, pleased.

John Lasseter shuts the door after them, turns around, and claps his hands briskly.  "RIGHT," he says to his creative team.  "Here's what we're going to do..."

I don't want to get married - I want to stay single and let my hair flow in the wind as I ride through the glen, firing arrows into the sunset!

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